How to install new carpet

Carpeting can make a room feel warmer, plusher and more expansive — and with the huge array of colors, textures, patterns and materials available, there’s sure to be something perfect for your space. We caught up with Adam Caldwell, furniture manager at Stark Carpet, and Ken Gurley, Boston showroom manager for Landry & Arcari Rugs and Carpeting, to find out what you need to know to get new carpeting in your home. Read on for the full scoop on choosing the right fiber and pad, carpeting trends and more.

 Liliane Hart Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Project: Installing carpeting in a room or whole house

Why: To add a layer of warmth, softness, color and texture

First things to consider: Think of your inspiration, Caldwell says, and let that determine your next steps. Caldwell also recommends considering the following questions:
○ Are you starting from scratch with the carpet, or are you hoping to marry a carpet selection with existing upholstery and color?
○ Are you choosing carpet for a high- or low-traffic area? Is it a well-used space where kids and pets congregate or a room used only when entertaining? Keep in mind that visual interest in the form of a texture or pattern also acts to camouflage mishaps.
○ What’s your budget? Purchase the best carpeting you can afford. Cutting corners will lead to replacing it before you expected.

Where to use carpeting: “Carpet is the best choice for anyone looking to create a mood or add visual interest to a room,” Caldwell says. Color, texture and pattern can add a layer of warmth, drama and personality to a space. Carpeting also provides a sound barrier, minimizing echo and household noise.

Entryways and other areas of the home that see very heavy traffic aren’t the best place for carpeting. There, hardwood floors are a beautiful choice, and when paired with a complementary area rug, they offer the best of both worlds.

Godfrey Hirst, original photo on Houzz

Know Your Material Options

Natural fibers: Choosing a natural fiber is a good way to protect indoor air quality, since it doesn’t off-gas the way synthetics do. Just keep in mind that natural fibers tend to be more expensive than synthetics.
Wool. While pricey, wool is a favorite of rug pros and designers for its natural look and feel and its durability. “If you can afford it, wool is the best, as it looks better over a longer period of time,” Gurley says. “It will spring back into shape with steam cleaning, and furniture marks are easily eliminated. Wool also breathes, so if a room is humid, the carpet will absorb some of the moisture and make the room feel more arid. When the room dries out, the moisture will be released.”
Silk-wool blend. Silk is soft and luxurious underfoot — and also very expensive, which is why this fiber is usually blended with wool in carpeting. Silk takes color beautifully, making silk-wool carpeting especially vibrant and rich.
Sisal. The natural irregularity of sisal carpeting adds welcome texture to living spaces. It can be difficult to clean, making it not the best choice for homes with active children and pets, or very heavy traffic areas.
Sea grass. Like sisal, sea grass carpeting is textured, sometimes with a basket-weave pattern. It’s usually less expensive than sisal but still difficult to clean.

Synthetic fibers: Most carpeting on the market today is made from synthetics. Many colors and patterns are available, including some natural fiber look-alikes.
Nylon. Most carpeting is made of this synthetic fiber, which comes in any color imaginable, is fairly resilient and is easily cleaned. Nylon is typically one of the most expensive of the synthetics.
Polyester. Soft, stain-resistant and affordable, polyester comes in a wide range of colors. It isn’t as resilient as other fibers, meaning it can get matted.
Polypropylene (olefin). The color is built into the fiber, making polypropylene carpets fade-proof, a good choice for sunny rooms or outdoor areas where fading and moisture can be a problem. Polypropylene isn’t resilient, however.

What look for in padding: What goes under your carpet shouldn’t be an afterthought. “A good pad is vital to the overall finished look and longevity of the product installed,” Caldwell says. Most Stark carpets use a 40-ounce lining material. Depending on your needs, you may want to consider other density options or soundproofing. Padding is available in synthetic, wool or a combination of materials.

Nanette Wong, original photo on Houzz

Whom to hire: A professional carpet installer will be able to handle imperfect floors, uneven surfaces and complex patterns.

What to look for in a pro: When starting your search for an installer, be sure to check references and ask friends for personal recommendations. “If a company has their own installers — not subcontractors — that is a very good sign,” Gurley says. “It means that they will be accountable for the quality of the work that is being done.”

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 Ziger/Snead Architects, original photo on Houzz

How to prep your space: “An ideal situation for our installers to walk into is an empty room,” Gurley says. “However, that is not always possible. We will move whatever furniture is necessary, but all personal belongings should be removed — pictures, clothes from dresser drawers, closets emptied, beds stripped, etc.”

Trends: “We are selling a lot of animal prints, antelope in particular for stairs,” Gurley says. “We also have seen an uptick in hand-loomed carpets that use a long staple wool in natural colors; these carpets have a lot of natural inconsistencies in them that make them look less like ‘carpet’ and more like a handmade rug. These have been particularly popular in family rooms, dens and bedrooms where you want a thick, cozy rug underfoot.”

Related: Browse More Bedroom Ideas

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i.fromkin interiors, original photo on Houzz

Costs: The cost for carpeting and installation varies, depending on the quality of material and regional costs of labor.
○ For basic wool without a pattern, Gurley says, the range is $6 to $12 per square foot for material. Typically, the thicker the pile of the carpeting, the higher the price.
○ Carpeting with more complex designs typically range from $10 to $16 per square foot.
○ Installation and padding should run about $2 per square foot.
○ It’s important to note that carpeting is purchased off a roll, and you have to buy the whole width of the roll (typically 12 to 15 feet). You can’t simply use the square footage of your room to determine the cost of the job; the room has to be measured to calculate how much carpeting and labor is needed.

How long will it take? In most cases, the lead time is four to six weeks from the date of deposit to the date of installation, Gurley says. If the company has your carpet in stock, the lead time can be as short as a week.

First steps:
1. Gather inspiration for the look and feel of the carpeting you want — Houzz is a good place to start.
2. Realistically assess your lifestyle and budget, and compare your needs with the types of carpet available.
3. Research installers and visit a showroom to look at carpeting in person.
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